The Power of MicroPractice: Why 5 Minutes Makes a Big Difference

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If you had to make a list of the main obstacles to improving skills, the number one item on the list would be “LIFE.”

We’re busy. Really busy. Maybe busier than any generation, ever. So naturally we tend to assume that, in order to improve our skills, we need to set aside a good-size chunk of time: an hour or so. To practice for merely five minutes feels like a silly waste of time.

We’re wrong.

There’s evidence to show that daily micropractices — five minutes or so — are effective and often superior to longer weekly practices.

One reason: on days you don’t practice, skills erode. You are forced to spend significant part of the next session re-learning what you’ve forgotten.

When you practice a little each day, skills don’t erode. In fact, they consolidate. It’s like a bank account earning compound interest: a virtuous spiral where skill accrues quickly.

The larger idea here is that deep practice is a construction process where you’re connecting and honing living wires in your brain. Spending daily bursts of time works, because it’s aligned with the ways our brains actually grow — a little bit every day.


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6 Responses to “The Power of MicroPractice: Why 5 Minutes Makes a Big Difference”

  1. Takeshi says:

    That’s good to hear. Do you have any examples of high performers who did 5 minute practices?

  2. djcoyle says:

    Great idea. What comes to mind right away is Hans Jensen, a cello teacher who used two-minute lessons for some of his students, and who found them to be highly effective. Then there’s an interesting school in England, which built its curriculum around a series of super-short lessons. Let me dig around some more and make a proper list, though.

  3. Larry says:

    It definitely works. In my opinion it’s a model for almost everything from math to soccer. My daughter who is an avid youth soccer player will do 15 min of focused “touch work” on the ball outside of scheduled team practice. She has a specific set of skill drills that she will do inside a small control box. After 4-5 months, many of the touch techniques are showing up regularly in competitive, high pressured game play. What this equates to as you say is interest in the bank. The cumulative effect of all these micro sessions are now paying interests. At first, any observable value was negligible or at least not observable, but now it’s become very noticeable. Each session is a quick re-wire of the brain, and yes there are mistakes. But when the skill becomes to easy, then we increase the speed or shorten the time to perform.
    The key is not to stop. The other key and perhaps the most important is the motivation. You must love what you do. When that is the case, then it is not work, it is pure joy.

  4. Philip Simmonds says:

    practicing everyday …………5 minutes or one hour………. creates a habit.

  5. Pat says:

    So much can be said for this type of consistency. If merely that, something is “waaay” better than nothing.

  6. Joel Chua says:

    Is there any research into whether or not music improves focus/intensity during micropractice? In particular in the development of soft skills of visual artists?

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